McALLEN–After three hours of deliberation, a McAllen federal jury convicted a Rio Grande Valley man for conspiracy and harboring undocumented immigrants.
Pedro Salazar, 56, of San Juan is now facing up to 15 years in federal prison when he gets sentenced in mid-August.
During trial, the prosecution presented evidence that on February 24, there was a two vehicle accident involving multiple immigrants.
Following the accident, three of them, who were from Guatemala and El Salvador, hid in a brush for a few hours and eventually started walking down the road.
These three people, two adults and a minor female, all testified that Salazar passed them on the road and asked if they needed help to which they said yes.
According to testimony, Salazar offered to get them something to eat, but soon drove them to his store/restaurant and put them to work instead.
For six hours, the undocumented immigrants continued to paint, put up display cases and shelves, dusted, swept and mopped.
They testified that after they ate, they performed more chores at the request of the defendant then were taken to a party he was hosting at his restaurant where they had to wait until Salazar eventually took them back to his residence.
The next morning, Salazar woke the men up and had them paint the gate at his ranch. During this time, Salazar attempted to have sex with a 16-year-old female girl.
He chased her around the room naked and told her she needed to have sex with him or there would be problems for her. She interpreted that to mean he would contact immigration.
She testified she told Salazar she would call law enforcement herself if he carried through with the act since she was a minor, at which time he stopped pursuing her she stated. The next day, Salazar’s wife kicked them out.
The defense attempted to convince the jury he was not actually harboring the immigrants, but rather, was trying to provide humanitarian aid.
The jury disagreed and found him guilty on the conspiracy charge as well as two counts of harboring illegals.